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16. September 2005

Saliha © Martina Handler

Saliha, director of our women´s center in Nimruz and running for parliament.

Afghanistan - Three Days before the Election

Paul Greening from the UNFPA gives an impression from Kabul. The UN confirms his dreary undertone: Arnauld sees election process jeopardized. But for Afghan women, the election is a great source of hope, as a CARE report shows.

5,800 candidates for 249 parliamentary seats and 420 provincial council seats. There are about 400 candidates for Kabul alone. How long does it take to look through 400 candidates even if one has decided who to vote for prior to entering the polling station? At least 6 candidates have been killed but this does not help much. About 45 have been disqualified for being part of an armed group but none of these are too big or it would have been too dangerous to disqualify them. The biggest killers are in the cabinet anyway.

One regulation is that if a candidate dies then the one who came second will take the post and so on. Should not take commanders who are candidates long to work that one out.

48 of the not too big commanders have been struck of the list. A lot more (over 200) should have been struck off if it was not for resistance from the ministry of interior and ministry of defense. Many were considered too dangerous to be struck off. Deals have been made with them. However, those that have been struck off are demonstration on a daily basis outside the Joint Election Management Board office. There has been no violence yet but plenty of threats. Khazai through the Supreme Court is trying to get candidates reinstated.

Women candidates have received death threats and the men are worried. Some say it is not Islamic and others point to the hypocrisy of the west and the lack of women in the US senate.

This year, even considering the better record keeping, has seen a significant increase in violence. 48 US troops and 1,000 Afghans have died this year plus the odd international. Kabul is fairly peaceful but the south and east is bad. Some districts are likely to have no chance to vote due to security. A few days ago the defense ministers car was shot but later it was announced that it was not an assassination attempt but an accident when two groups of the national army was firing on each other. So it was ok it was just the army shooting at each other.

The real problems are likely to come when the results are announced in early November and then the challenges period starts for 10 days. Those who lost are likely to cause trouble and of course if a candidate dies the next moved into their place.

Then when the parliament is formed it will consist of independents not political parties and is likely to be weak and paralyzed. There will be a lot of horse trading and paying people off. The provincial councils will have no teeth. Their job is vague and mostly advisory. They will be paid by the governors so are not going to be too independent. The district council election elections were supposed to happen on 18th also. They will not happen as the control of districts is too controversial and the boundaries are not clear and disputed. In the future they will not happen as there will be no money or political will from abroad. As a third of the upper house would have been chosen by the district councils.
Paul Greening, Kabul

UN sees democratization process imperiled

Even the official UN´s special envoy to Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, warns of the failure of the democratization process. The chief of the EU election observance mission, the Italian EU-delegate Emma Bonino, also shows her scepticism in the run-up to the elections. „I don´t believe, that this election will create a consistent form of a political discussion culture nor a sane political life“, she says referring to the bad security situation, which will not even allow international election monitoring in five provinces.
Quellen:, 15.9.2005.

Afghan Elections: A Turning Point for Women

Although the circumstances don´t seem to give reason for much optimism - Afghan women see next week’s election as a key to a better life, judging by a sample of potential voters queried by CARE International. Women said Afghanistan’s first parliamentary vote in more than 35 years brings high hopes for more freedom and access to education. But many are still concerned about election security and the potential for former warlords to dominate the polling process.

Click here to read the CARE report.


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